Afraid to make a mistake? Don’t be.
According to author Alina Tugend, the best way to become an expert in your field is by making mistakes, lots of them, but to cooperate with the brain on learning from them. In her new book, Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong, explains the science of making mistakes and why learning from them is vital in a culture of perfectionism. Tugend has been a journalist for nearly 30 years and for the past six has written the ShortCuts column for the New York Times business section. She has written about education, environmentalism, and consumer culture for numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Parents and is a Huffington Post contributor. I have the honor of conducting an exclusive interview with her for Psych Central.
1. I was very intrigued by the research and physiological components behind making mistakes? Could you briefly describe why dopamine is an important contributor to learning from mistakes?
Alina: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we process errors. Dopamine neurons generate patterns based on experiment — if this happens, that will follow. The Iowa Gambling Task, developed by neuroscientists helps prove this point. A player is given four decks of cards and $2,000 of play money. Each card tells the player whether he won or lost money, and the object is to win as much money as possible.